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Epic vs. Google: Fortnite maker wins monopoly case against Play app store

By The Count - on 14 Dec 2023, 1:55pm

Epic vs. Google: Fortnite maker wins monopoly case against Play app store

In a landmark legal battle, Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, has secured a significant legal victory against tech giant Google. The case, Epic vs Google, culminated in a jury verdict that deemed Google's control over its Play Store and Play Billing service as an illegally maintained monopoly.

You can read the verdict here.

If you recall, back in late 2020, Epic Games sued Apple and Google after both companies took down Fortnite on their respective app stores for ‘attempting to circumvent the 30% cut that both Apple and Google will take’ when gamers make purchases through their platforms.

The jury, after a brief period of deliberation, unanimously agreed that Google holds monopolistic power in the realms of Android app distribution and in-app billing services. The verdict further asserts that Google engaged in anti-competitive practices in these markets, to the detriment of Epic Games.

Wilson White, Google's Vice President of Affairs and Public Policy, expressed the company's intention to appeal, underscoring the competitive nature of the marketplace, particularly against Apple's App Store and other Android and console-based app stores.

Epic Games, on their company blog, heralded the verdict as a victory for app developers and consumers globally. They assert that this ruling exposes and condemns Google's monopolistic practices, which, according to them, lead to excessive fees, stifled competition, and hindered innovation.

This verdict marks a significant divergence from Epic's previous legal encounter with Apple, where they faced defeat. The case against Google was distinct, focusing on confidential revenue-sharing agreements between Google, smartphone manufacturers, and major game developers. These deals, believed by some Google executives to be a strategy to suppress rival app stores, suggested Google's specific concern over competition from Epic.

The next steps in this legal saga are yet to be determined by Judge James Donato, who will decide the appropriate remedies. Epic Games, which did not seek monetary damages, is advocating for the court to mandate that app developers be allowed to operate their app stores and billing systems on Android. The exact nature and feasibility of these demands remain uncertain until further discussions, scheduled for the second week of January.

Judge Donato has already declined Epic's request for an anti-circumvention provision, which was aimed at preventing Google from devising alternate methods to reintroduce similar issues. He also refrained from determining the fee percentage Google should charge for its services.

While Epic did not seek financial compensation, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney hinted at the potential financial gains for the company if freed from Google's fee structure, possibly amounting to hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

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